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South Carolina Gas Station Owner Fatally Shoots in Back Teenager He Wrongly Suspected Stole Water: Sheriff

Gas Station Owner Fatally Shoots Teen Over Water: Sheriff
Source: Richland County Sheriff’s Department; UNSPLASH

May 31 2023, Published 5:30 p.m. ET

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The owner of a South Carolina Shell station is facing a murder charge after he killed a 14-year-old boy he wrongly suspected shoplifted, RadarOnline.com has learned.

Around 8 p.m. on May 28, Cyrus Carmack-Belton was shot in the back by Rick Chow, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said, as Front Page Detectives reported.

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Gas Station Owner Fatally Shoots Teen Over Water: Sheriff
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According to Sheriff Lott, investigators found the victim had not stolen any water bottles or that the teenager, who reportedly was armed at the time, pointed a gun at Chow.

“The owners of the convenience store suspected him of shoplifting,” Lott said. “He did not shoplift anything. We have no evidence that he stole anything whatsoever.”

Gas Station Owner Fatally Shoots Teen Over Water: Sheriff
Source: Richland County Sheriff’s Department

According to the sheriff, Carmack-Belton ran from the station in Columbia following a “verbal confrontation” and Chow and his son gave chase.

Chow “was armed with a pistol,” Lott said, adding the station owner shot Carmack-Belton in his lower back at a nearby apartment complex.

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Gas Station Owner Fatally Shoots Teen Over Water: Sheriff
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A gun was recovered near Carmack-Belton’s body, according to Lott.

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Gas Station Owner Fatally Shoots Teen Over Water: Sheriff
Source: Richland County Sheriff’s Department

“Regardless, even if he had shoplifted four bottles of water, which is what he initially took out of the cooler and then he put them back, even if he’d done that, that’s not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old, but you just don’t do that,” Sheriff Lott said.

“There’s been many instances there, where this store owner has confronted people that’s been shoplifting,” Lott noted. “There’s been assaults on his family, too. He has not been charged in any of these other cases because they did not rise to the level where he should have been charged."

The sheriff added, "Last night it rose to that level, and that’s why he’s charged with murder today.”

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